Allen Elishewitz is a well known name in knife design and he is the brains behind the Elishewitz F.T.W.S. now available through Columbia River Knife & Tool Company (CRKT). But, being the cynic that I am, I never take anything for granted (ok, rarely) and I like to abuse the heck out of something before I agree that it's of value. When CRKT sent me the FTWS to test I immediately started trying to figure out how I could test it to its limits. Since FTWS stands for For Those Who Serve I knew this knife was meant for uniformed personnel and I had to test it appropriately. It took what I had to throw at it and kept on coming.
Made from SK5 carbon steel, with a 57-58 HRC rating, the full tang blade is 6.3" long and sports a modified spear point. On the spine of the blade is another sharpened section designed for chopping purposes. The published material says this is a chisel ground flat grind edge. However, my test knife had a double-bevel ground edge just like the primary blade. This spine edge is reportedly 4" long (and it measures almost that on my test knife) with about 3.75" of that actually being sharpened. The full length of the knife's steel is powder coated to prevent corrosion and minimize reflectivity. Overall length of the knife is just over 11.5" and weight is a little more than a half pound.
The handle portion is very ergonomic with a partial hilt on a slant to the line of the blade and four finger grooves that fit my medium-size hands quite well. If you've got big paws it may not feel as good in your hand. The Zytel grip slabs are secured to the tang with three hex-head screws per side; six total. A lanyard loop hole is designed into the handle end with a pointed "skull crusher" pommel. The knife is designed for combat and cutting field use - not for hammering.
The CRKT proprietary sheath is black nylon with a hard plastic insert. The sheath has a utility pouch on the face with a fastex buckle cover. There is an adjustable (and removable) leg strap attached at the lower end for securing the sheath to your thigh rather than having it swing freely. The belt loops (dual side by side) are height adjustable via hook-n-loop closure backed up by two snaps. The security straps to retain the knife are both removable. This is just my preference but I think one is enough. I like the lower one that holds the knife close to the sheath insert. The top one seems unnecessary to me, but I'm not jumping with the knife or similar. The back of the sheath's body is slotted so that the sheath itself can be mounted on MOLLE webbing. Also on the lower portion of the sheath are five grommet holes per side along with a length of paracord if you need more options for securing the knife to your gear.
Now, how well does it cut and/or take abuse? Out to the backyard and shed I went...
Having recently cleaned out my shed I had found an assortment of items I could attempt to cut, chop and puncture with the knife. To test the FTWS I pulled out:
- 1" and 2" nylon webbing
- 1/2" fiber rope
- 1/2" yellow nylon "boater's" rope
- a piece of 1/4" plywood
- an 8x8 burlap tarp
With this material I set up on my patio and began the cutting. The FTWS handled the string and webbing (both widths) with a single pull during each test. The 1/2" fiber rope (a cotton mixed with something else I can't identify) cut with a single pulled through stroke, but hte 1/2" nylon took two passes on each test. I thought, at first, it might have just been me being weak, but three times it took me two cuts to get through it. That said, I turned the knife over, put the ugly yellow nylon rope on the plywood and CHOPPED throught it with a single stroke.
To cut the burlap tarp I hung it on my clothesline and took several swipes at it, trying to cut lengths in it with the tip of the blade. Of the five swipes I attempted, I made three fairly clean foot long cuts in the material. Satisfied, I pushed the knife through the material near the line it as hanging from and dragged it down the front, cutting the burlap vertically. There were a few snags here and there, but the vertical cut was mostly clean.
Moving on to the plywood I set it up on two sawhorses and took a couple overhand swings to see how far I could puncture the knife into the plywood. With each swing I got about 1.5" to 2" of the blade through the plywood. The full width of the blade (just under 1/4") stops about .75" from the tip, so I was getting the tip plus about .75" to 1" of the full width blade into the plywood - and then had to pry it back out.
Finally, I went down to the beach (about a mile away) and got a couple gallons of Chesapeake Bay water in one of my five-gallon plastic buckets. I dropped the knife in that and left it sit for three days before taking it out, shaking it off and leaving it out on my deck to dry. After it was dry, rained on and then dried again, a very light discoloration could be seen on the sharpened edges of the knife. One wipe with a cloth removed them and the knife looked almost new again.
All in all I can give the knife a thumbs up. MSRP on the CRKT website is $159.99. A Google search for "CRKT FTWS" found several listed as low as $82.06 (Just over HALF of MSRP!) to as high as $99.99. Search around and I'm sure you can find a good deal.